Good luck with that: Angels 'working hard' to deal Gary Matthews Jr.

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FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reports that “the Angels are working hard to trade Gary Matthews Jr.” Of course, if the Angels could have traded Matthews without eating a significant portion of his remaining contract they would have done so long ago.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports recently ranked Matthews’ five-year, $50 million deal as the eighth-worst contract handed out this decade, and the Angels still owe him $23 million over the next two seasons. How much of that money would they have to eat in order to find a taker for the 35-year-old Matthews?
In an effort to answer that question Sam Miller of the Orange County Register wondered what type of contract Matthews would get on the open market right now, because if you subtract that hypothetical amount from $23 million that’s basically how much the Angels would need to chalk up as a sunk cost.
Naturally, agent Scott Leventhal is in full-on spin mode when it comes to Matthews’ current value:

Gary wants to play every day, and he wants to play center field. He’s still got an amazing amount of talent. The Angels have been notified [of Matthews’ desire for a trade] on a number of occasions. It’s just a matter of whether something can be done.

When agents say things like that, do they realize how ridiculous they sound and how much credibility they lose? Matthews is 35 years old and has gone from overrated to just plain bad defensively while hitting .248/.325/.383 in three seasons with the Angels, including .250/.336/.361 this year. Yet according to Leventhal “he’s still got an amazing amount of talent” and wants to be an everyday center fielder. In related news, my mom thinks I’m still the handsomest boy in the neighborhood and I want to marry Mila Kunis.
Step away from those equally implausible fantasy worlds and Matthews is basically a run-of-the-mill backup outfielder at this point, which would maybe get him a one-year deal for something like $2 million on the open market. If he’s lucky. In other words, for the Angels to find a taker for him they’d likely have to eat upwards of $20 million, which definitely qualifies as “working hard.”

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.

The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?

Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.

The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.

I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.

MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.

Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.

Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: